Indian Whisky Brand Champions 2013

8th July, 2013 by SB Staff Writer

INDIAN WHISKY BRAND CHAMPION: IMPERIAL BLUE

indian whiskyImperial Blue is one of Pernod Ricard’s 18 key local spirits brands, and is its second biggest-selling whisky in India. Its official name is Seagram’s Imperial Blue – a reference to its previous owner.

By the time Seagram’s was sold to Pernod and Diageo in 2001, it had built a solid business with its Indian whiskies. In those days Scotch was effectively barred from India with import tariffs running at 750%. Today the figure stands at 150%.

In the carve-up of brands which followed the sale, Pernod acquired the entire Seagram’s India portfolio including Royal Stag which is now the country’s third most popular whisky with sales of 14m cases. Yet of all the brands, Imperial Blue has benefited the most from the Pernod acquisition, growing from half a million cases in 2000 to over a million by 2002.

Six years later it hit the headlines when some bottles in Andhra Pradesh were found to be under-strength. It was later discovered they had been sabotaged by disgruntled workers. The whisky is a blend of Indian grain spirit and malt whisky shipped from Scotland. Priced at a premium to brands like Officer’s Choice and Bagpiper, and with more contemporary packaging, it claims to be India’s number three deluxe whisky.

While spirits advertising has been banned in India except in cinemas, Imperial Blue has been adept at finding ways round the rules.The brand is a past master in surrogate advertising (also officially banned) using clothing, soft drinks and music CDs to promote the brand. This is common practice with Indian whiskies tending to focus on their tagline rather than the drink itself. For example the words ‘No.1 Spirit of Leadership’ are splashed across hoardings at all the country’s major cricket grounds. Everyone knows that it’s a reference to McDowell’s No.1 whisky.

Imperial Blue recently went one further, and in 2011 commissioned a full-length 90-minute film called ‘Men Will Be Men’ – the brand’s tagline. The movie was said to be “a slice of life story about four young adult males” – the target audience for the brand, and featured popular Indian TV stars.

Pernod’s success in India is not built on its Scotch brands like Chivas Regal and Ballantine’s, but on its Indian whiskies which have grown from one million cases in 2000 to over 25m today. Vijay Mallya’s giant United Spirits – the largest spirits company in the world – may sell five times as much whisky, but its margins are way lower. According to a recent report in The Economic Times of Indiaits average case price was Rs720 (£8.50) compared to Rs1,760 for Pernod Ricard.

Raising prices will be a key priority for Diageo as it assumes control of United Spirits, and it will be interesting to see whether volumes can be maintained at the same time. However, everything is bound to change if and when the wall of import tariffs comes down

 

INDIAN WHISKY
BRAND OWNER 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 % +/-
McDowell’s No.1 Reserve United Spirits 13.4 13.5 14.3 16.1 19.5 21%
Officer’s Choice A.B.D 6.7 11.1 11.6 16.5 18.1 10%
Royal Stag Pernod Ricard 6.8 8.4 10.4 12.5 14 12%
Bagpiper United Spirits 15.4 16.3 16.4 16 14 -13%
Old Tavern United Spirits 4.8 6.8 9 11 11.6 5%
Original Choice John Distilleries 8.8 10.2 10.9 10.7 10.9 2%
Imperial Blue Pernod Ricard 3.8 4.8 6.1 7.2 8.8 22%
Hayward’s Fine United Spirits 2.8 4.1 4.7 6.2 7.1 15%
8PM Radico Khaitan 3.2 3.6 3.9 4.3 4.9 14%
Director’s Special United Spirits 4 4.4 4.5 4.5 4.3 -4%
Blenders Pride Pernod Ricard 1.9 2.3 2.8 3.5 4 14%
Gold Riband United Spirits 1.8 2.7 2.3 3.1 3.5 13%
McDowell’s Green Label United Spirits  – 2 2.5 2.9 3.3 14%
Director’s Special Black United Spirits 1.8 2 2.9 2.9 2.9 0%
Signature Rare Aged Whisky United Spirits ₋– 1.1 1.3 1.6 1.8 13%
Royal Challenge United Spirits 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.4 1.7 21%
Men’s Club United Spirits  – 0.6 0.8 1.1 1.2 9%

 

SEE OTHER CATEGORIES
GIN LIQUEURS
SCOTCH WHISKY WORLD WHISKIES RUM
TEQUILA VODKA INDIAN WHISKY
SPECIALITIES

 

Leave a Reply

If that's interesting, how about these?

Whisky investment firm to relaunch historic brand

A start-up whisky investment firm launched by Diageo's former commercial more...

Shipwreck could hold thousands of litres of rum

Sunken British warship the Lord Clive could hold "treasure worth millions", more...

Pioneering Scotch whisky experiments

Rather than bemoaning another set of regulations, these Scotch whisky producers more...

Top 5 bars in... Melbourne

Homegrown Aussie spirits are taking over the spotlight and the speed rails of more...

Government to investigate United Spirits' books

Diageo’s Indian drinks arm United Spirits has continued to see declining more...

Fair Trade producer adds gin to stable

Fair Spirits has created a gin made with “ethically sourced and more...

Bike helmet with built-in breathalyser invented

Students in India have created a helmet that breathalyses motorcyclists before more...

F1 boss will not ban alcohol sponsorship

The president of Formula One has said that a ban on alcohol sponsorship in the more...

Millennials to drive spirits growth in the US

The future of spirits in the US is seemingly secure, as millennials take up more...

Quintessential to launch NAS Irish whiskey

Quintessential Brands is set to launch a new no-age-statement (NAS) Irish more...

Scotch distilleries report record number of visitors

A record-breaking 1.5 million people visited Scotland’s Scotch whisky more...

Bardstown creates whiskey brands with Mahalo

Kentucky’s Bardstown Bourbon Company has partnered with Mahalo Spirits Group more...

Top 10 new Scotch whisky distilleries

As the Scotch industry hails a boom in tourism and all-time-high investment, more...

Top 10 most bizarre bar locations

Toilets, cranes, gold mines and giant coffins have all acted as very unusual more...

India consumes 55% more alcohol than in 1992

As multinational drinks groups attempt to increase their footprint in India, a more...

Johnnie Walker unveils new bottle in Singapore

Diageo has launched a collectable limited edition bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue more...

UK's 24-hour drinking laws a 'qualified success'

One of the UK's leading economic think tanks claims the "doom-mongers" who more...

Calls for F1 alcohol sponsorship ban increase

The “dangerous cocktail” of advertising and sponsorships by groups such as more...

Cocktail chain to expand after £13m buyout

Cocktail chain The Alchemist will roll out to more sites across the UK more...

Glenrothes distillery planning application withdrawn

A planning application for a new distillery in Glenrothes, Scotland, that would more...